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“ Even these [the works of Ray and Derham,] have been now super. seded by the masterly performance of Dr. Paley-a writer of whom it is not too much to say, that he has done more than any other indi. vidual who can be named to accommodate the defence both of Natural and the Christian Theology to the general understanding of our times. He, in particular, has illustrated with great felicity and effect the ar. gument for a God from those final causes which may be described in the appearances of nature--and, although he has confined himself chiefly to one department, that is the anatomical, yet that being far the most prolific of this sort of evidence, he has altogether composed from it a most impressive pleading on the side of Theism. He attempts no eloquence; but there is all the power of eloquence in his graphic representation of natural scenes and natural objects-just as a painter of the Flemish School may without any creative faculty of his own, but on the strength of his imitative faculties only, minister to the specta. tors of his art all those emotions both of the Sublime and Beautiful which the reality of visible things is fitted to awaken. And so with. out aught of the imaginative, or aught of the etherial about him--but in virtue of the just impression which external things make upon his mind, and of the admirable sense and truth wherewith he reflects them back again, does our author by acting merely the part of a faithful copyist, give a fuller sense of the richness and repleteness of this argument, than is or can be effected by all the elaborations of an ambi. tious oratory. Of him it may be said, and with as emphatic justice as of any man who ever wrote, that there is no nonsense about himand so, with all his conceptions most appropriate to the subject that he is treating, and these bodied forth in words each of which is instinct with significancy and most strikingly appropriate—we have altogether a performance neither vitiated in expression by one clause or epithet of verbiage, nor vitiated in substance by one impertinence of prurient or misplaced imagination. His predominent faculty is judgmentand therefore it is, that he is always sure to seize on the relevancies or strong points of an argument, which never suffer from his mode of rendering them, because, to use a familiar but expressive phrase, they are at all times exceedingly well put. His perfect freedom from all aim and all affectation is a mighty disencumbrance to him-he hav. ing evidently no other object, than to give forth in as clear and cor. rect delineation as possible, those impressions which nature and truth had spontaneously made on his own just and vigorous understanding. So that, altogether, although we should say of the mind of Paley that it was of a decidedly prosaic or secular cast-although we should be at a loss to find out what is termed the poetry of his character, and doubt in fact whether any of the elements of poetry were there-although never to be found in the walk of sentiment or of metaphysics, or indeed in uny high transcendental walk whatever, whether of the reason or of the fancy-yet to him there most unquestionably belonged a very high order of faculties. His most original work is the Horæ Paulinæ, yet even there he discovers more of the observational than
the inventive ; for after all, it was but a new track of observation which he opened up, and not a new species of argument which he de. vised that might immortalize its author, like the discovery of a before unknown calculus in the mathematics. All the mental exercises of Paley lie within the limits of sense and of experience—nor would one ever think of awarding to him the meed of genius. Yet in the whole staple and substance of his thoughts there was something better than genius—the home-bred product of a hale and well-conditioned intellect, that dealt in the ipsa corpora of truth, and studied use and not orna. ment in the drapery wherewith he invested it. We admit that he had neither the organ of high poetry nor of high metaphysics-and perhaps would have recoiled from both as from some unmeaning mysti. cism of which nothing could be made. Yet he had most efficient or. gans notwithstanding—and the volumes he has given to the world, plain perspicuous and powerful, as was the habitude of his own under. standing-fraught throughout with meaning, and lighted up not in the gorgeous coloring of fancy, but in the clearness of truth's own element —these volumes form one of the most precious contributions which, for the last half century, have been added to the theological literature of our land. “ It has been said that there is nothing more uncommon than com
It is the perfection of his common sense which makes Paley at once so rare and so valuable a specimen of our nature. The characteristics of his mind make up a most interesting variety, and constitute him into what may be termed a literary phenomenon. One likes to behold the action and reaction of dissimilar minds—and there. fore it were curious to have ascertained how he would have stood af. fected by the perusel of a volume of Kant, or by a volume of lake poe. try. We figure that he would have liked Franklin; and that coming down to our day, the strength of Cobbett would have had in it a redeem. ing quality to make even his coarseness palatable. He would have abhorred all German sentimentalism-and of the a priori argument of Clarke, he would have wanted the perception chiefly because he want. ed patience for it. His appetite for truth and sense would make him intolerant of all which did not engage the discerning faculties of his soul-and from the sheer force and promptitude of his decided judg. ment, he would throw off instanter all that he felt to be uncongenial to it. The general solidity of his mind posted him as if by gravitation on the terra firma of experience, and restrained his fight into any region of transcendental speculation. Yet Coleridge makes obeisance to him--and differently moulded as these men were, this testimony from the distinguished metayhysician and poct does honor to both.” vol. i. pp. 274–77.
Art. VII.--Address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Rhode
Island. Delivered September 7, 1836. By William G.
This is an admirable performance, full of good taste and scholarly accomplishment, of comprehensive thinking, and of the high and generous enthusiasm of a genuine disciple of good letters. Its subject is “the Value of Liberal Studies.” The dangerous and debasing influences which are so strongly at work in our country—the predominance of the love of money and of party politics—are adverted to, and the importance of liberal Sudies, “ as means of reforming tastes and habits thus uncongenial to virtue and happiness," is eloquently set forth. The author successfully “challenges for science and for letters the noble praise of reclaiming us from the dominion of the senses; of lightening the burden of care ; of stimulating the undying principles of the moral life." We cordially recommend this pamphlet to the thoughtful perusal of our readers. It is calculated to do more good than many a performance of much greater size and pretension.
But, besides the good service we think we do in calling attention to professor Goddard's address, we have another object in putting it at the head of this article. We wish to take the occasion it offers of expressing our views upon a kindred, though somewhat more special topic—the value of a profound study of works of creative art in reference to religious cultivation.
It is a charge sometimes made against Christianty by its enemies, that its spirit is hostile, if not to science, at least to literature and the fine arts. All its defenders, we believe, would firmly repel such a charge. They would no more allow that our religion is hostile to literature and the fine arts, than to science. It nowhere proscribes them. It is true that, in the public services of a religion so supremely addressed to our intellectual and moral nature, the results of genius and taste, in processions and temples, in painting and statuary, in poetry and music, can by no means have so eminent and essential a place as in the sensuous mythology of the Greeks. Yet these same powers are not, therefore, excluded from seconding the more severe exercises of a Christian assembly with efforts, though less various, yet far more strenuous, and of a beauty far more elevated than were called forth by the shows of heathenism. As Christianity thus does not proscribe literature and the fine arts, even by excluding them frorn its sanctuary, so its spirit is
not hostile to them. We grant that the days of ancient heathenism were an imaginative age. We grant that the mythological system of the Greeks, gradually moulded by the imagination of a race exquisitely sensitive to the beautiful—a system which deified the powers of nature, and made every hill, or grove, or stream, the haunt of inferior and visible divinities, must have had a peculiar fitness to awaken the genius of its gifted votaries to produce creations of unequalled grace and beauty. But does Christianity dry up the productive fountain ? Does it destroy the sense of the beautiful? Does it entirely strip nature of that imaginative covering-dissipating as a vapor that belief in the presence upon earth of a higher order of being ? Nay, we believe, on the other hand, that the spirit of Christianity received into the heart, peculiarly quickens the sense of the beautiful, and heightens the enjoyment of every worthy product of genius. And certainly though it carmot and dare not represent divinity to the eye, and may not make conceptions of the presence of higher nature so general, because not so gross; yet, to the elevated and purified mind, it conveys a sense of the constant presence of Him whose eye is over his creation ennobling and hallowing it all. Thus, in him who can appreciate the influence of Christianity, it awakens the sense of a more solemn and essential beauty, with far profounder efforts of the imagination, than the Grecian mythology; because, after all, the gods of the Greeks were gods of earth, and could lead the mind of their worshippers no higher than their own sojourn. The Christian may not even want the imaginative influence of a less awful order of superior existence. He is entitled to believe, that,
“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep."
-how often from the steep
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heaven."*
when we are simply * Paradise Lost, Book IV. vv. 677--688.
distinguishing our religion from heathenism, we may point to the inspired poetry of the Hebrews. Where can there be found a more exquisite sensibility to the beautiful ? Where can we find the imagination exhibited as more deeply touched with the sense, that nature is hallowed by the presence of Divinity ? In choosing examples from the later period, we might be thought to claim too much for the influences of religion, where other powers were likewise at work, if we should say, that Christianity chiefly gave birth to new and sublimer schools of architecture, music, and painting, and to a profounder spirit of poetry. We may, however, point to one, at least, who drank at the pure Hebrew and Christian sources, and thereby attained to a dignity and sublimity of poetic character unknown to any but those who were under the influence of inspiration.
Let us not be thought in asserting that the spirit of Christianity is by no means hostile to literature and the fine arts, to be taking unnecessary pains. For though all might be ready to speak as decidedly to that purpose as we have done, were the objections of infidelity in question, yet, where the subject has been examined in other relations, too independent of this, many religious persons would seem, by their practice at least, to have come to a widely different result. There are, or have been, some who would be apt even to assert that of Christianity as its glory, which we have been at such pains to disprove. They would appear to consider the powers which are active in the production of works of literature and the fine arts as having kindred only with the perverted condition of our nature-powers of the enemy, which, if admitted into the sacred citadel, would surely betray it. They would not willingly suffer architecture to lend her hand to beautify the temple in which God is worshipped and his gospel proclaimed. The voice of the organ—a “multitudinous sea” of solemn tones--they would reject as a profane voice, incapable of being sanctified to uttering notes of praise. Even eloquence would be admitted with jealousy; and certainly would never be specially cultivated. The spirit that would thus refuse to appropriate and sanctify the productions of genius in public worship is usually hostile to them under all circumstances. It will neither admit them into the temple, nor go out of the temple to hold communion with them. Such men doubtless) believe that they are, in this as in other things, acting in the true spirit of the gospel. But if so, what do they less than to proclaim, that the spirit of Christianity is hostile to literature and the fine arts ? * Trying this spirit," we should say, that it is no manifestation of the catholic spirit of the gospel, but is generated by the collisions of ecclesiastical parties.